various audio players

Remember 8-Tracks? How the Switch From Physical Media to Streaming Changed Everything

Do you miss vinyl and cassette tapes? So does the music industry. Let's take a magical mystery tour through the history of recorded sound--and discover how streaming ruined everything.
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    Not to be all “kids today,” but… kids today will never know the thrill of listening to brand-new vinyl. Nor will they know the agony of trying to re-spool a cassette tape using a pencil.

    Woman rewinds a retro cassette with loose tape using a pencil
    Adobe Stock

    If you grew up in the era before streaming, then you probably lived through multiple generations of media. Each one had its quirks, but now that streaming is the default way we consume music, movies, and television, I can’t help but miss those older media formats sometimes.

    Not all progress is good. Some formats sacrificed quality in favor of cost or convenience. For example, a LaserDisc player hands-down provided better picture and sound than VHS and DVD.

    Nowadays, most physical media has been phased out or limited to a small group of enthusiasts. Streaming has reshaped not only the way that we listen and watch but also the media itself. It’s easy not to notice how much things have changed, but when you stop to think about it, streaming has had a much bigger impact on our culture than most of us realize.